World Chimpanzee Day 2020

World Chimpanzee Day

World Chimpanzee Day July 14 2020
Chimpanzee greeting, Kibale National Park, Uganda

A day to celebrate these amazing animals, while at the same time, raise awareness about the urgent need to protect chimpanzees, both in the wild and in approved safe captivity. It is also a day to educate people about the chimpanzee’s uniqueness, importance, and threats they are facing. 

This date is very significant.  On July 14th, 1960, Dr. Jane Goodall joined the Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania to study wild chimpanzees.  We are honouring both Dr. Jane Goodall and chimpanzees on this very special day

Chimpanzee, Kibale National Park, Uganda
Kibale National Park, Uganda

Chimpanzees are our closest living relative in the animal kingdom. We share approximately 98.6 % of our DNA with chimpanzees, rather than any other primate.  While humans did not evolve from chimpanzees, we share common ancestors.

Chimpanzee, Kibale National Park, Uganda
Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park, Uganda

Chimpanzee facts

Chimpanzees are unique. In the wild they remain close to their troops while exploring, foraging, playing, and grooming one another, and making soft beds to sleep in each night. They form very close bonds with their family members and friends. They move along the forest floor by walking on the knuckles of their hands or swinging from tree branch to tree branch often screeching loudly. They are mainly herbivores eating fruits of the forest and serve as ‘forest seed dispersers’ which is important for the ecosystem. Chimpanzees also eat meat. 

Happy face, Kibale National Park, Uganda
Happy face, Kibale National Park, Uganda

They have many similarities to humans, for example; a large brain that has a complex brain structure, and possess high intelligence. Chimpanzee mothers are very maternal, loving, and protective over their young who they care for until they are around 4- 6 years old. They are very emotional and show a lot of empathy for one another, particularly in a time of upset and when grieving the loss of a deceased family member. Chimpanzees hunt in groups and strategically plan their capture and share their food with their group. 

 They communicate amongst themselves by making different vocalisations during play, hunting, and making threats.  Chimpanzees display emotions, grief, anger, and affection. They are vulnerable to human diseases and the common cold can be deadly for chimpanzees. 

Kibale National Park, Uganda
Kibale National Park, Uganda
Endangered Species

Chimpanzees are highly endangered. One hundred years ago there were approximately 1-2 million chimpanzees across twenty-five countries in Africa. Today there are only around 340,000 chimpanzees left in only 21 African countries. Chimpanzees have already disappeared from four African countries, and are nearing extinction in many others.

Beautiful eyes
Beautiful eyes, Kibale National Park, Uganda
 Threats

There are many threats for chimpanzees, all taking a terrible toll on most of the chimpanzee population. 

  • Deforestation
  • Habitat loss
  • Wildlife trafficking
  • Captive in cages for biomedical research
  • Commercial hunting for bushmeat
  • Illegal pets
  • Captivity for human pleasure
  • Capativity in accredited zoos and circuses

“Chimpanzees were used in medical research because of similarities in their genetic composition, the structure of the blood, the functioning of the immune system, and the structure of the brain. It was acceptable to place them in solitary confinement, in five-by-five, seven-foot-high laboratory cages, because (it was asserted) they, unlike us, did not have personalities, or minds capable of rational thought or emotions. It is only because of the good work and efforts that Dr. Jane Goodall’s foundation and the raising awareness programs, such as World Chimpanzee Day, we now know better and medical research with chimpanzees has stopped.

Looking up
Looking up, Kibale National Park, Uganda

We now know that chimpanzees have individual personalities and are extremely capable of rational thought and emotions. Like us, they are very social and communicate with specific vocalizations, facial expressions, and body language. They have a unique culture and are able to make and use tools. They are amazing, intelligent, sentient beings who deserve our respect, love, and support.

Due to habitat loss, disease, illegal hunting, and wildlife trafficking, only 350,000 remain in the wild.  And the threats don’t end there. Although the United States finally ended invasive research and testing on chimpanzees in 2015 (the last country in the developed world to do so), many chimps still remain in captivity – kept as illegal pets and exploited for entertainment.

Beautiful and kind Chimpanzee, Kibale National Park, Uganda

What can we do

There are so many ways to become a part of the movement to protect chimpanzees!

  • Avoid products that are made of palm oil.  Companies are now planting and harvesting in Africa which is destroying chimpanzee habitats
  • Only buy wood products that are made from sustainably logged wood
  • Don’t buy any souvenirs that are made from animal parts
  • Consider donating to a reputable organisation to save chimpanzees
  • Become a chimpanzee guardian at the Dr. Jane Goodall Institute. Their mission is to protect all chimpanzees. They are rehabilitating chimpanzees who have been rescued from medical research programs, illegal pet trade, circuses, and zoos
  • Get involved with World Chimpanzee Day
  • Check out WWF for more information 
World Chimpanzee Day July 14 2020
Beautiful hands, Kibale National Park, Uganda
References

https://www.worldchimpanzeeday.org

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012/06/bonobos-join-chimps-closest-human-relatives

https://www.iucn.org/content/96-chimpanzees-could-be-saved-african-action-plan

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC379137/

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